Labor Day is months away, but for many countries, Tuesday is the most important day of the year to honor workers.
Last year on May Day, or International Workers’ Day, rallies in Manhattan focused on President Donald Trump’s attacks on immigrants. The Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City became a focal point of immigration officials, whose investigation put immigrant workers’ jobs at risk. Several of the workers who were fired when they couldn’t provide work documents still haven’t been able to find new jobs.
But the Trump administration isn’t alone in squeezing immigrant workers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s crusade against e-bikes, electric-powered bicycles, has made the mostly immigrant delivery workers who use them afraid of police. And there is also the recurring plight of street food vendors — most are immigrant workers — who are often targets of cops and inspectors for not having vendor permits, which are limited by a ridiculous cap.
On Tuesday, immigrant- and worker-rights groups, like the nonprofit Laundry Workers Center, which was the focus of the award-winning 2014 documentary “The Hand That Feeds,” will rally in downtown Manhattan to protest businesses that allegedly abused workers. Immigrant workers are often victims of bosses who don’t pay them.
But what can you do to help immigrant workers (assuming you’re not wearing a MAGA hat now)? For starters, tip them. Immigrants work in home care, child care and food delivery — jobs that make some of our lives easier. Be generous.
Support immigrant workers by not clamoring for police enforcement. Complaints are often what the city uses to justify its e-bike crackdowns, which can lead to confiscated bikes, loss of wages and deportation if fingerprints from an arrest help immigration officials detain those here illegally.
Most of all, show some respect and solidarity for immigrant workers. Most of us are workers. NYC is a working-class city, a city of immigrants. So even if our elected officials haven’t done enough to protect our neighbors here illegally, let’s all stand by the delivery workers, vendors, home care workers and nannies. Show them that New Yorkers care.
Josmar Trujillo is a trainer, writer and activist with the Coalition to End Broken Windows.